Portrait of a Venetian Woman

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Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman, 1505. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. 35 x 26 cm.

Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman is a small bust-length oil on elm panel painting by the German artist Albrecht Dürer from 1505. It was executed, along with a number of other high-society portraits, during his second visit to Italy.

The woman wears a patterned gown with tied-on sleeves that show the chemise beneath. Her hair frames her face in soft waves, and back hair is confined in a small draped cap. The work's harmony and grace is achieved through its mixtures of tones, from her pale, elegant skin and reddish blond hair to her black-and pearl necklace and highly-fashionable patterned dress; all of which are highlighted against a flat black background.[1] It is similar in pose and colour tone to his c 1507 A German Woman from Venice, while at least two studies of Venetian women are known, both of which are very daring. One shows the model with a plunging neckline, the other with bare shoulders.[2]

A German Woman from Venice, c 1507. Dahlem Museum, Berlin.

During his visit to Italy Dürer became fascinated by and befriended Giovanni Bellini, an established master when Dürer was still a relative unknown outside of Germany. The Franconian artist's influence can be seen in this work's soft modeling, dramatic lighting and vivid colours and tones.[3][4]

The work was not identified as a Dürer original until it was found in a private Lithuanian collection in 1923. The identity of the sitter is lost; however, in dress and hairstyle, she appears to be Venetian, rather than Germanic.[3] The portrait is unfinished; a number of elements, noticeably the black bow above her chest, are not as well described as other passages.[1]


  1. ^ a b Bailey, 86
  2. ^ Silver, 101
  3. ^ a b Silver, 72
  4. ^ Brion, 182